Wednesday, December 31, 2014

As the year draws to an end

I have started to write a "next" post so many different times in my head.

It still seems unreal to think that the last time I clicked "post" on this blog was the height of the grief and loss of our little guy. Almost 11 months ago.

To say that this year was not what we had expected seems like an understatement.

It was more stretching, more hope filled, more grief filled, harder and more foundational than we ever dreamed.

Losing our little guy rocked our home and my heart.  I won't lie.

Figuring out how to pick up the pieces and move forward as a family that is forever changed just a bit by grief took some time and much grace.

Because a loss I learned, forever changes the lens you view life through.  It always look a little differently and with one less face.

You cradle life a little more carefully, soak in who you have, and give yourself permission to let go of the extras for a bit.

I learned that comparing grief always come out with someone losing.  So often I would try to stuff my grief down with the thought that some one was walking a harder road and greater loss and I learned that  satan can attack deeply in that place.  Both losses can be validated, loved in and seen.

God met us with so much grace.  He taught us that joy and grief can be walked in tandem.  That they don't negate the other . . but in fact bless and ease each other.

He showed us so much grace in the friends that loved us through the tears, the (continued) transitions and at times, my need to pull back and hold close to the Father, Ryan and our girls.

He showed grace in the gift of our girls and all they bring to our family.  We saw Him meet them in their grief and in stretching their own hearts to trust His future for our family. They bring so much joy.

He has given grace to dream again and hope again . . .even as grief still can surprise and creep up.  Christmas was tender - we had hoped to be celebrating as a family of six.  Yet again, the grief of the loss exposed all the blessings God has given and so we held those close and gave thanks even as tears fell at times.

I have a time hop app on my phone that shows what you posted on social media 1, 2 , 3+ years ago on that day.  It is often so sweet to see what memories surprise me with each day.  Yet this time of year I am also seeing the posts of our preparing and hoping to welcome our little guy home last year.

It's interesting  - this looking back.  Without a doubt it feels tender as we approach the first birthday of our little guy and the culmination of our hope and grief that we walked.  Part of me wants to go back and prepare my heart back then . ..and yet even in it, I wouldn't change a thing.

No child deserves to be welcomed with a guarded heart.  This little guy was our son in every facet of our hearts.  God had worked a miracle of binding hearts and I will only give thanks for that even in the  heartache that can still surprise me some days.  And his story, his momma's story, and our story, all intertwined, is this daily reminder to pray for all that is broken and all that needs Jesus.

I haven't always shared the specific ending of our story on this blog . . .it ended in a way no one quite hoped.  Baby boy never went home with birth mom but instead entered the foster care system.  The entire time it unfolded, birth momma maintained contact and was grieving alongside us  and we grieved a young girl who had no real support, no long term perspective in her decision and a mutually lost son to both of us.

We had a few months of contact with birth mom and my heart grieves for her to this day.  She was struggling, greatly, last she connected and still without much support.  I wonder about her often and pray for her safety and hope she is still with us.  It is hard to hope for the miracle of reconciliation for her and baby boy . . .and so I pray for that family that is loving him and raising him for us.  We pray they love Jesus.  And we pray they are teaching him to love Jesus as well.  I never dreamed my heart would be tied to foster families in this way . ..the sweet family caring for him had no idea the story they were taking on.  And so we pray for grace for all.

Our family?  I am so grateful our family's future hasn't changed and is no less secure in the hands of loving, sovereign God.  A little baby boy and his last shared picture will forever have a place in our home.  He is a part of our story.  Our hearts.

My devotional yesterday was titled, "I have taken away Your Fear of the Future" and was based on Proverbs 31:25.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

While I don't pretend to have walked this journey with all the strength and dignity that I would have liked, God has taught me so much about fear and my faith in Him for our future.  He's exposed alot and the journey has not always been pretty.

But step by step, He is teaching me that fear does not have its place in trusting our family's future and walking forward with Him.  He is teaching me to step beyond it and away from it and confidently forward.

The devotional read, "The year ahead may hold new joys and opportunities, and it may hold new hardships and hurdles.  But you can greet whatever comes, confident that I am your refuge and strength . . .not because you are sure that you can handle it, but because you are sure that I can."

We still walk many unknowns right now.  But I am so deeply, deeply, thankful, that my God's faithfulness is not one of them.

Serving Him was never about the blessings or happy endings.  It is about knowing Him, becoming more like Him, and finding Him to be true.

There are days I see a little boy and would love nothing more than to have our little guy home with us and in my arms.  But what I have learned about my Father and His goodness in this loss, is a gift I couldn't for go.

And so it is for all that, that we step into a new year with much hope and grateful that we can find confidence in a God who remains our refuge, remains our strength and is with us in all the year may hold.

Happy New Year friends . . .